Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said in Greenville Thursday that Marine Corps leaders should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether to let women join ground-combat units without political interference from above.
The Obama administration and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus are pushing to open all military jobs to women, despite a Marine Corps study of women in combat that found all-male units performed significantly better than mixed-gender units on tactical tests and that women were injured more than twice as often as men.
Asked about the issue after a campaign appearance at the Poinsett Club, the only female Republican presidential candidate said the decision should be left to the Marine Corps.
“I think we ask our military leaders, and our men and women in uniform to do an incredibly important and dangerous job,” Fiorina told The Greenville News. “And so leaders need to decide. We shouldn’t politicize our military. We should let our military leaders decide what’s best to maintain readiness.”
Fiorina’s speech and book-signing capped a three-day swing through South Carolina that took her to seven cities at a time when her political fortunes are on the rise.
After a widely hailed debate performance in front of a national television audience on Sept. 16, Fiorina placed second in a CNN/ORC International poll, with 15 percent, a jump of five spots for her since the previous national poll. She was in fourth place in a Bloomberg Politics poll out Thursday, with 11 percent.
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO opened her remarks to members and guests of the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club with an attack on New York billionaire Donald Trump, frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, who has criticized Fiorina’s appearance and business record.
Fiorina said she had heard in a news report that Trump’s recent decision to stop appearing on Fox News was because he didn’t like a remark by National Review Editor Rich Lowry.
Lowry said on the air that Fiorina had emasculated Trump during the most-recent Republican presidential debate in California.
“Now you know if I quit talking to all the people who attacked me, I would have crawled under a rock long ago,” Fiorina told the mostly female audience at the Poinsett Club. “That’s part of it, you know? It’s part of what it takes to be in the arena. You have to be able to take criticism. You have to be able to stand up to a fight.”
Jim Merrill, South Carolina director for the Trump campaign, referred questions to Hope Hicks, the campaign’s national spokeswoman, who couldn’t be reached.
During a brief interview with The Greenville News, Fiorina defended her opposition to the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which the Republican-led Congress let go out of business at the end of June.
That prompted General Electric Co. to announce recently that it planned to put 400 jobs in France instead of at its power turbine plant in Greenville and two other U.S. locations.
GE said it needed to include export financing of the kind formerly provided by the bank in order to bid on billions of dollars' worth of work to make power turbines and generators for various foreign countries.
GE said it couldn't get the export financing in the United States now that the Ex-Im Bank is out of business, so it turned to the bank's equivalent in France to obtain a line of credit for the global power projects.
As a result, GE said it is required to put 400 jobs it expects to create, if it wins the business, in France instead of in Greenville; Schenectady, New York; and Bangor, Maine.
Like tea party Republicans in Congress, Fiorina and most other GOP White House hopefuls have opposed the federal lending agency on the grounds that export financing is a job for the private sector, not the federal government.
Fiorina said Thursday she doesn’t understand GE’s decision to do the turbine work in France.
“I’ve tried to do business in France,” she said. “It’s one of the worst nations in the world to do business in. I mean, their labor rules are so restrictive. I don’t know all that they considered, but I certainly wouldn’t defend that decision.”
Fiorina said the Ex-Im Bank had become a “symbol of crony capitalism, unfortunately. It’s one of the reasons the American people are so angry. So we have to reform a whole bunch of government, including the Ex-Im Bank.”